Local kids think globally for summer programs

Why not offer your child a globe-trotting experience this year?

Is your child looking for change this summer? Perhaps a summer of travel might be the solution. Many summer travel opportunities combine the benefits of camp with international and cultural exposure.

Whether your child is a seasoned camper or has never been away from home, participation in a summer travel program is a great lesson in independence.

“At the end of the summer, parents always tell us how much their child grew up," says Fran Grundman, co-director of West Coast Connection, a teen travel camp based out of Toronto and Montreal. “From learning how to cook, do laundry, budget their money and survive in a group of people they’ve never met, kids develop essential life skills.”

West Coast Connection offers over 25 programs including trips throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and all programs offer slightly different experiences to students.

Spending a summer abroad can be an excellent intermediary step between high school and university and allowing your children to experience travel can help move them out of their comfort zone. “You really see that there is a big world out there, and you learn to respect other traditions,” says Grundman.

For many kids, summer school can be a real drag, but with schools like Blyth Education, kids can get ahead in their studies while visiting some of the most exotic and culturally rich places in the world.

Blyth offers 12 sites of study in six continents, and students can take grade 10, 11 or 12 courses for one month terms.

“Classes are very small, which gives students a chance to do very well academically,” says Sam Blyth, the Blyth Education chair. “We integrate the curriculum into the local venue, and we call it classrooms without walls.”

For students interested in studying biology, Blyth offers a program in Australia where classes are held on a yacht anchored on the Great Barrier Reef, says Blyth.

“Teachers teach on the deck of the boat, and run classes underwater.” “There is a trend in camping that parents are looking for more substance in their children’s summer activities,” says Grundman of West Coast Connection.

“We want to provide something that kids can tangibly take away from their summer experience. West Coast’s community service program aims to provide lowercost travel experiences for students.

Kids have the opportunity to participate in projects such as building homes for low-income families or building playgrounds for village children.

West Coast has three community service destinations: Washington, Belize and Alaska.

The program allows students to complete their high school community service requirements in a community outside of their own.

Blyth Education also incorporates community service into their programming. Through the View Foundation, they have ongoing projects in Cuba, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your own country to gain life experiences through travel. Outward Bound Canada offers programs for eight- to 19-year-olds, which involve outdoor travel and adventure.

Trips are based in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick and are aimed at helping kids and teens to establish a sense of their strengths and abilities.

Outward Bound International also operates in 50 countries around the globe.


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